We often talk with local businesses about what we can do for them, as part of our mission at Creative Oklahoma: to develop, promote and celebrate Oklahoma’s creativity and innovation in education, commerce and culture.
And what we often find in local businesses is that they value innovation—but are reluctant to train and assess their employees on innovation. Understandably, it’s scary to make an investment in something without knowing what the end game looks like.
Innovation is a skill, like any other—some people are born with a particular bent toward it, and everyone can get better at it if they work at it. But in order to grow in any skill, you have to be able to assess where you’re weak and where you can grow.
One way we’re fostering innovation in Oklahoma is a mentoring program we’re implementing in partnership with several other groups. The idea is to help young (and not-so-young!) Oklahomans take their business ideas from ideation to implementation.
There are so many people in our state with great ideas! But young people often don’t know where to go to make their ideas into a reality. So our two offices will provide mentorship as well as a place for them to fail—to bring bad ideas, learn why they won’t work, and learn how to dust themselves off and start again.
Thomas Edison once famously said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
At the heart of innovation is thinking of failure as something you grow from—not something that knocks you down and keeps you there. We need to be able to learn from our failures, and that means constantly thinking up new ways to creatively solve the same problem if our current ways aren’t working. Because in sales, in entrepreneurship, and in leadership, you can either innovate or die.
Failure is inevitable, but the way you respond to it is all up to you. The next time you find that something doesn’t work, think of it as a way to exercise your innovation muscle. You’ll be in good company.